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Couch #6 - Nico

Couch #6 – Nico – June 5th, 2010

I first must apologize for the delay in updating my blog.  I’ll talk more about it later, but I had a bit of a stomach illness and was also sort of out of town and so time and energy was at a premium/mimimum.  I’m back now and will be doing my best to keep up with this everyday.

Couch #6 belongs to Nico.  The couch is relatively new. The prior couch was shredded into pieces by his dog when his dog was around 6 months old and left alone for about 4 – 5 hours. There wasn’t anything to salvage.  He found this couch online.  He went to go see it at a “showroom” in Culver City but was led to a Public Storage space instead.  He looked at some fabric samples, a frame, and a catalog and was told to pick what he wanted.  They were cheap.  He has passed out on it a couple of times watching TV.   The dog is Border  Collie and Rhodesian Ridgeback mix and is now 2 years old.  Nico is in a relationship and lives in a subterranean condo in the style of Laverne and Shirley in West Hollywood, California.  There is no Lenny and Squiggy, however.  Nico is a digital supervisor for a visual effects company.   He used to drink a lot for fun, but now is trying to do things that are less destructive.   He likes sculpting on the computer and art.   Nico was born in Belgium and moved to the United States when he was about 10 years old.  He didn’t know a lick of English when he moved here.  We met at Monday Night Movies at the Burgundy Room.  Nico would bring one of his favorite movies as the bartender, Lauren didn’t want to be tasked with picking the movie.  Nico would show up at 8:30pm with VHS in hand.  On one of these nights, almost exactly 10 years ago, we were introduced by our now mutual friend, Rick O.  One Nico’s current favorite albums is “Brothers” by the Black Keys, but he always enjoys Nick Cave’s “Sugar Sugar”.  One of his favorite movies is “Vampire’s Kiss” with Nicolas Cage, and his favorite food, by far, is Sushi.  He is a night owl.

So on Saturday, June 5th, I picked up my charger for my laptop and headed to West Hollywood for next couch.  My host for the night was running some errands and as I had not had checked my email all day, I wanted to get online and get caught up.  So I made my way to Starbucks.  Specifically, I headed over to the Starbucks at the old Sunset Plaza, currently called 8000 Sunset Strip or something like that.  I discovered that this Starbucks is primarily an outdoor cafe.  There were 2 tables inside and as I needed to recharge, I grab a seat at one of the tables and went to work.  I was quickly able to get into the zone and get some things done.   I had two hours free parking there and the coffee is less than $2, so I decided that I could stay an extra hour, ’til 6pm, if I needed.  But around 5pm I received a call from my host, Nico.  He would be home soon and was hungry and wondered if I could meet him before too long.  Right before he called, I had decided that even though I was around the corner from his place, I wanted to check my mail at my old place in Hollywood.  I told Nico the plan and that I would meet him in an hour.  I efficiently made the run to Hollywood along with a stop at 7-11 for a Lotto ticket and a stop at Rite Aid for some supplies including some Listerine pocket paks and a plastic travel soap dish.   Now I should interrupt here to tell you that Nico’s place was not the destination I was expecting to be at when I woke up that morning.  You see, Nico and his girlfriend have an occasional “game night” at her place and while that had been originally scheduled a couple of weeks earlier, it had been postponed until the night of my couch stay.  As game night took place at the girlfriend’s house, Nico would be spending the night there,  and I was to do the photos and interview there as well.  Who the subject would be was to be determined and changed a few as I tried to convince both his girlfriend and her tenant/friend to join in the project.  Since I would be in their homes, it made more sense, but  as I’ve discovered, some people have privacy concerns and no matter how much they may say that they support what I am doing, they are not going to join in.  This is something that I understand and don’t fight, and as I have had plenty of couches to choose from, I have not had to fight for places to stay.  So,  Nico would be my host for the evening, but it would be at his girlfriend’s place, right?  Wrong.  That morning, I had received a text informing me that the girlfriend was sick, game night was cancelled, and as originally planned, I would be sleeping on his couch, at his place,  in West Hollywood.  Therefore, after running my errands I arrived at this place with my stuff.

After a brief hello and a bit of conversation, I was again informed by Nico that he was hungry.  I was hungry myself at this point, and so after a quick shower, we were on our way to dinner.  We headed off to The Cat and Fiddle in Hollywood.  As it was nice out, we sat outside and I got my usual Shepherd’s Pie and a pint of Newcastle and Nico got, well, whatever Nico got and a Stella I believe.  We discussed things that friends discuss, such as, other friends and work and whatnot.  We had one more pint, and then decided to hit the road.  As it was nearby and still early, we decided to head up to the Burgundy Room.  It was where we had met and become friends 10+ years earlier and while we were not regulars anymore, it usually was a required stop, especially when we didn’t have to pay $20 to park there.  We left the car parked safely where it was and took the short walk there.  Torrance, who I will call the doorman for reasons of simplification, greeted us as we arrived.  He’s really more of a fixture there and as he has told me before, he’s seen me grow up from a boy into a man over the years that I had been going there.  He welcomed us in and we sidled up to the bar.  A bottle of Newcastle was ordered and whatever it is that Nico was drinking. We grabbed a seat at the lone table in the front and began our usual reminiscing.  We also conversed with Ian, the bartender and an old friend, as well Brane, a rock star, sailor, and  DJ for the night.  After a quick beer,  as we still had photos and interviews to conduct, we left.

We made a stop at the store for some more beer and then arrived back at his place a little loose from the beer and with an interview and photos to do.  Some of the  results of that interview are featured  in the intro above, and some of the photos are featured here. But more than those notes and the photos, because of the influence of alcohol, this interview was one of the longer ones, both on my part as the interview and Nico’s as the subject.  After the interview, I believe that we had another beer and that there was more conversation, but what we discussed and how much longer this went is unclear.  It wasn’t just that I was a few beers in, it was also that I was completely exhausted.  I will say that it didn’t get terribly drunken or go terribly late, as Nico had to get up fairly early as he and his girlfriend were heading out on a trip.  So, at some reasonable hour,  I dozed off on the couch.

In the morning we both woke up in time for him to get ready and headed out for coffee and pastries at the local coffee shop.  We had an interesting conversation with the woman working there as she was from New Zealand and trying to practice her American accent.  She slipped in and out of it and being tired and a bit hungover, it confused the hell out of me.   She told us how one time, while practicing her American accent, she asked some one for some tomato sauce and serviettes (ketchup and napkins).  Once back at the condo, we sat quiet for the most part until his girlfriend arrived.   We watched  “The Whitest Kids U’Know”.  Before it got to late, the girlfriend had arrived, the car was packed up, and they were on their way.  They left me with keys so that I would have a place to call “home”, between my couches, until Wednesday.  This was quite welcome, but soon the next couch would be calling and I would need to be on my way.

About 50 Couches in 50 Nights

My name is Dean MacKay. In June and July of 2010, I slept on 50 different couches in 50 consecutive nights. I took photographs of the couches, both as a couch and as my bed. I took portraits of my hosts and interviewed them. I documented their homes on film and digitally as well as in a journal. I was treated to home cooked meals and intimate secrets. I was cared for when I was ill and checked in on after I was long gone. There were sleepless nights and busy days and times spent discussing the past and dreaming about the future. I drank a lot of coffee at a lot of different coffee houses. There were old friends who became closer and acquaintances who I now call my friends. There were even strangers who invited me into their homes. Threads were woven among them all. My skills were honed as I practiced my craft on a daily basis. I learned many things about my hosts and I continue to learn many things about myself. These times are unforgettable. This journey was initially born out of necessity. The economic times had taken their toll. But the fruit of this labor is not simply financial. It is emotional and spiritual and societal. I tapped into something that is still developing. And as it develops I will share with you this knowledge as well as providing you a way to share it with others. I hope that you will support me as this journey continue and grows. I plan to unveil many things from this work including a coffee table book on the couches, and perhaps other books and a documentary. I'm also hoping to get the blog carried on a major website. Of course, and second project is also in the works although what form it will take has yet to be determined. Any assistance or advice that you can offer to further these projects is welcome. Your support, both financial and emotional, is crucial to my success. Thank You. © Dean MacKay 2010


3 thoughts on “Couch #6 – Nico – June 5th, 2010

  1. Wait did you say you skipped a few nights? due to illness? Isin’t that a disqualification? Please explain ASAP. I signed on for 50 in 50 pal.

    Posted by Jdoggs | June 16, 2010, 1:32 am
  2. I didn’t skip any nights. I just haven’t blogged since Thursday. Didn’t you miss me?

    Posted by Dean | June 16, 2010, 1:55 am
  3. I miss you everyday, my little nomad!

    Posted by Jdoggs | June 16, 2010, 4:00 am

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